Cyberbu//y

I have not done a movie review in a long time, but I recently caught this movie on ABC Family and was surprised to find myself liking it a lot.

Emily Osment plays seventeen years old Taylor, a slightly awkward, inexperienced teen who gets a laptop for her birthday. As any teen, she is excited for the new freedom and immediately logs on to a popular social networking site. But what starts out as fun quickly turns bad as a prank turns to cyberbullying and everyone in Taylor’s school turns against her. The teasing and bullying gets so bad and isolates Taylor so completely that she contemplates suicide.

Osment is a shockingly good actress, I have only ever seen her as goofy sidekick to Miley Cyrus’s Hannah Montana, so I wasn’t sure how she would be. It turns out, she is not only believable (as a sweet, sad, and bubbly teen), but also has the ability to really make you feel for her. In fact, she did such a good job she had me crying at all the right moments. (I haven’t cried during a movie in probably ten years so this is a pretty big deal. Any of my friends can tell you, I am not a crier.)

I was impressed at how well and realistically the movie covered the problems of the characters without becoming melodramatic and over the top. If this movie is any indication, Emily Osment has a bright future in the acting world.

Toy Story 3

Oh, Bo Peep. This picture is kinda sad really...

The movie we’ve been waiting for, for eleven years, even if we didn’t know it. And well worth the wait! Everything about this movie–Andy is preparing for college, the toys get taken to a daycare center–was done just right.

Who knew that toys could make you cry? And there plenty moments where you could feel the tears coming, beginning to end. But it also didn’t skimp on the comedy, the cleverness, and the occasional bizarre moment.

This movie wouldn’t have been as good as it was without the first two movies, but it might have been the best one of the series.

All I want now is a Toy Story marathon where I can sit and watch all three.

Killers

I wasn’t really interested in seeing this movie. It just looked…eh. I don’t particularly care for Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl is just okay in my book (largely because her roles are nearly identical). But it turns out there’s even less in theaters than I might even consider watching (no Sex and the City 2 for me, it doesn’t look even marginally good) so I saw this in the end anyway.

Plot: Jen goes to Nice, Italy with her parents after being dumped. There she meets Spencer, an attractive guy (Ashton Kutcher actually looks fantastic in this movie), they fall in love, get married…Spencer has always wanted to settle down, have a family and get to know his neighbors. His father-in-law has never taken to him for some odd reason though. Oh, and did I mention that he’s an assassin? He “gets out” once he meets Jen but his handler warns him that he can’t get out. Jen doesn’t know about his earlier life but when Spencer’s boss contacts him again, it turns their quiet, idealic life upside down as killers begin attacking to collect a bounty on Spencer.

I liked the movie a lot more than I expected. It wasn’t the best thought out (for one thing, there are two MAJOR plot holes that will go unmentioned because they are total spoilers–let’s just say “pay attention to the premise of the movie and what sets things in motion” and see if it all adds up in the end), but there was something enjoyable about it nonetheless. Heigl playing someone who thinks she’s ugly isn’t the most believable (though I don’t think she’s as gorgeous as people say she is), but her awkwardness is what makes it work.

This isn’t a must-see movie but it is enjoyable if you’re in the mood for a cute, easy movie.

Kick Ass

This movie fits its title perfectly (and I don’t mean in the super obvious way that Hot Tub Time Machine and Snakes on a Plane do). By agreement of everyone who saw the movie with me, it was awesome.

For starters, you only think you know what’s going on based on the previews. For example, you think it’s supposed to be funny (which it is) and kid friendly (which it definitely is not–we did not realize it was rated R until we got to the theater). You think you know whose side everyone is on (you don’t). Let’s just say that though there are some similar aspects of Kick Ass and Spiderman (geek turned hero), there’s so much more…blood. Think The Last Samurai only starring a little girl.

They managed to make the movie funny, exciting, emotional, shocking, and a whole lot more. There was never a moment where the movie was slow or dragged on. My sister actually came out of it saying “I can’t think of a single thing to criticize in that movie.” I don’t know about flawless, but I do know that this movie was well-written and well-acted all around. I was happy with everyone from the known stars (McLovin and Nicholas Cage to the newcomers).

Best of all, they have set it up perfectly to allow for a sequel, which, assuming it does as well as it deserves to do, it will get. If there was one movie I would recommend seeing right now, this would be it. In fact, part of me wishes it was even in 3-D because the action scenes were Kick Ass. (Sorry it was just such an obvious thing to say.)

It’s based on a comic (and I hear it is remarkably close) and I’d love to check one out.

How To Train Your Dragon

How To Train Your Dragon follows Hiccup, a boy who can’t live up to his dragon-slaying father who rules the Viking village. Where his father is athletic and decisive, Hiccup is nervous and clumsy. This leads to a divide between him and his father and makes him the ridicule of the village. So when the village gets attacked, he tries to help and manages to knock a Night Fury out of the sky. No one has ever seen a Night Fury and lived so they know nothing about it. When Hiccup tells his dad what he’s done, his dad doesn’t believe him so he sets out to find where it landed and discovers that the Night Fury is still awake. But the dragon is still alive and Hiccup can’t bring himself to kill the dragon. He secretly befriends that dragon and discovers that everything the Vikings believe about the dragons are wrong. Hiccup must convince his father and the other Vikings of the truth before it’s too late for them all.

This movie was really good. It was a well combined mix of comedy and seriousness. They did such a good job of making everything feel real, making us care for the characters. And the detail was so nuanced that they gave Hiccup a tiny, faded white scar on his chin that you can only see if you look really carefully.

Another thing about the movie is that it is showing in 3D. One of the big questions on everybody’s mind is whether or not the new 3D movie fad is worth the extra money. Not only does it cost more, but you have to wear those stupid glasses (try wearing those on top of regular glasses…also, you must look straight at the screen, if you tilt your head they don’t work). Well, having seen a handful of movies in 3D recently (HTTYD, Alice, Avatar) I’ve had some thoughts. While my sister misses the 3D of the past where things fly at your face and zip over your head, I’m okay without those gimmicks (though at times that would be nice too). I do think that 3D needs to be limited to movies with lots of special effects, ideally things with fast moving scenes and explosions.

All that being said, I truly think that the movie was enhanced by the 3D aspects. The big fight scene felt closer and more intensive because of it and all the dragons flying around was definitely worth the watching. If you’re considering where or not to see this movie, I definitely recommend it. In 3D in particular, if you can manage it.

Our Family Wedding

The main reason I wanted to see this movie was because America Ferrara was in it. I kind of like her (both for the fact that she is not the typical Hollywood look and because she usually does fun, uplifting things) but didn’t really know what the movie was about, so I decided to go when my friend asked if I was interested. It was that or Cop Out which I had zero interest in.

Anyway, the movie is about a Mexican-American girl and an African-American guy who fall for each other and get engaged. The problem: they haven’t told their parents. Lucia hasn’t told her family for a number of reasons. One is that they are very traditional and want her to marry another Mexican. Another is that she dropped out of law school to teach. Marcus meanwhile has a father who had a bitter divorce and no longer believes in marriage. But finally it comes time to reveal their engagement and things don’t go so well. In part because their fathers have a run in with one other before meeting as soon to be in laws.

The movie was cute, but overall nothing special. It had occasional funny moments but little, if anything, stood out as unique or particularly well done. America Ferrara played her part, but it was all predictable. She also looked very tired throughout which I think is partially poor makeup. The one character who I particularly enjoyed was Isabel, Lucia’s sister, who is something of a Tomboy. She was the funniest character thanks mostly to some snappy writing, but I for one wished she’d had more of a real storyline.

All in all, I don’t recommend paying to see this in theaters. It was fun but not worth the price of a theater ticket. Rent it once it’s on DVD.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

This was a movie I was very excited to see since it’s an adaptation of a book series that I’ve come to love. Many people compare to Harry Potter to which I say, well yeah, it’s about a boy in a magical world who grows up and discovers how important he is. Stories in the same genre tend to have similarities. Get over it. That being said, I watched this movie for the same reason that I watch the Harry Potter movies: not because I expect it to be comparable in quality to the books but because I enjoy the nostalgia it gives me for the books. It’s a piece of the thing I love even if not quite as good.

I found the movie to be a lot of fun. By no means is it a top quality book, but there was some great action and the animation was well done. Uma Therman, for her part, was fantastic. Brandon T. Jackson was perhaps the best of all in the movie playing Grover the Satyr. He had the majority of the funny lines and delivered them all perfectly. I hope we’ll be seeing more of him.

But as with any movie made from a book, there are things that had to be left out. Some of those decisions were good ones but as usual, some were unfortunate. They cut out a few characters that were particularly interesting and combined the Annabeth of the book with another character who served as Percy’s rival, particularly in the beginning. They also cut out the details and hints that set up the bigger plot that carries through the entire series. I think this is part of what makes people look at the story as inferior to HP since part of HP’s brilliance is in the vast details that JKR managed to weave into the books. Rick Riordan did the same with Percy Jackson, even if not to the same degree, but the movies cut out most of that.

Some of the acting was a little overdone, particularly in the beginning. In a way it felt like the actors needed time to get comfortable in their roles and by the end managed. The added scene of Poseidon and Zeus in the beginning was both unnecessary and way overacted but did have some particularly cool graphics for when Poseidon (Kevin McKidd of Grey’s) stepped out of the water. A little bit of the writing was cheesy.

One of my biggest complaints was that Annabeth had blue eyes rather than grey. I know this is such a minor thing but when “grey-eyed Athena” is such a famous and important detail, it seems like the kind of thing you should keep consistent. Part of the charm of the series is the way it weaves myth with reality.

But aside from the obvious issues, it was enjoyable. I would recommend first reading the book and then watching the movie. Keep in mind it won’t be as complex or excellent but it’s still fun if you don’t expect too much.